Some Updated Thoughts on Weapons

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Some Updated Thoughts on Weapons

PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:31 am

Posts: 456
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
As I mentioned in the Gladiator build thread, there's been some changes to Clan and Inner Sphere UACs. On top of that, some recent experimenting with SRMs has led me to adjust my preference for which launchers to mount, when I have a ton of missile hardpoints. These two changes together seem signicant enough to warrant a thread, separate and apart from the build threads.

Ultra Autocannons

The November, 2016 patch altered jam chances and jam times across both Inner Sphere and Clan UAC lines. Clan UACs used to have a jam chance ranging between 14% and 17%, depending on caliber. Those jam chances are now all 17%. The jam chance of the Inner Sphere UAC5 was and remains 15%. Jam times used to be five seconds, across the entire UAC range. Now on the Clan side, UAC2s have a jam time of three seconds, UAC5s have a jam time of six-and-a-half seconds, and UAC10s and UAC20s both have a jam time of eight seconds.

More detailed analysis, including how the changes affect double-tap DPS can be found in this Reddit post. The short version is that UAC2s got a buff sufficient to make them kind of disgusting in groups; UAC5s are dubious at best, and if a UAC10/20 jams in a brawl, then you're going to die a horrible, horrible death.

In light of these changes, on my UAC5-based mechs that lack jam chance quirks, I'm either switching to Gauss or stripping modules and engines. On my UAC10 and UAC20-based mechs, I'm switching to Gauss or stripping the mech, regardless of its quirks. Regardless of the effect of the jam changes on damage-over-time, eight seconds is enough time to strip and gut an assault mech in a close-range brawl, where UAC10s and UAC20s are most at home. That means that the 17% jam chance doesn't represent a chance to deal reduced damage, but a worse-than-one-in-six chance to just lose a fight outright.

Because of the one buff to the UAC line, a couple of those ballistics-based mechs might get converted to UAC2 builds, but for now, I'm more comfortable using Gauss rifles.

Short-Range Missiles

For a long, long time, one of the trade-offs for higher damage in larger missile launchers has been a larger spread pattern on volleys fired from larger launchers. Common wisdom--and my own build doctrine--has been that SRM6 launchers spread their damage too far to be useful, but Artemis guidance mitigates that spread enough to make ASRM6s viable. Regular SRM4s have a similar spread to ASRM6s, making them useful on their own.

And that's kind of where most experimentation with SRM launchers stops. SRM4s work well if you've got lots of missile hardpoints and little tonnage, and ASRM6s are better, when you've got tonnage and fewer hardpoints.

After the Cyclops build thread, I spent a little more time with my CYC-10q and its seven missile hardpoints. The highlighted Splatplops is pretty good, but because there's only two available crit slots in the center torso, there's no way to cram in a seventh ASRM6 launcher. If you want to utilize that seventh missile hardpoint, then you've either got to add an ASRM4 launcher to the mix, which has a slightly different cycle time than the ASRM6 launchers, or you've got to use the remaining weight for more ammo and heat sinks, as I did in the highlighted Splatplops.

One alternative build strategy is to mix lasers or flamers in with the SRMs, which I did in a couple of other highlighted builds, but those builds trade off raw damage-over-time for range or the utility of being able to shut a target down. Surely that extra missile hardpoint means there's a more optimal pure-missile configuration.

My first thought was to drop Artemis altogether and switch to 7SRM4s. There isn't a reasonable way to use the chassis' weight, though. You can drop in a zillion tons of ammo, but seven SRM4s aren't going to use more than about eight tons of ammo, even in a drawn-out match. That build got scrapped before seeing the battlefield. Sticking with those seven SRM4 launchers and adding Artemis, though allows for seven to eight tons of ammo and eighteen or seventeen heatsinks (something like this, which has gone through quite a bit of refinement).

That build did make it to testing, and holy cow, the spread on those missiles is tight. ASRM4s are pick-a-single-component-and-lay-waste-to-it tight. Because SRM4s fire faster than SRM6s, SRM4s also maintain about the same level of sustained damage as the larger launchers, despite the 7ASRM4 build giving up eight tubes versus the 6ASRM6 build. That comes with the caveat that you will spend more time facing your target, since you need to fire more often, but in my experience to-date, that's a price worth paying. Dealing similar damage without splattering it all over your target means you'll get kills faster, mitigating the effect of proportionally more face time.

Based on this experience, can we make a general statement that ASRM4s are sufficiently better than ASRM6s or non-Artemis SRM4s to make up for the difference in tonnage or raw damage? Well, the Cyclops has no missile spread quirks, and its torso missile hardpoints are about as close together as you see on other missile-based mechs, so you can expect the spread improvement to be comparable on other mechs. On the mechs in the highlight pipeline, I've got other SRM builds, and what I've found is that if you have sufficient tonnage and hardpoints to mount six launchers, then ASRM4s are amazing. If you only have four hardpoints, and the SRMs are going to be a primary weapon, then you need to run ASRM6s and just live with the splatter, since you won't have a sufficient punch with just 4ASRM4.

Re: Some Updated Thoughts on Weapons

PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:44 pm

Posts: 456
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:24 am
Location: SSX Vault 12
As a follow-up, the latest UAC nerfs have had a substantial impact. The weapon system has all but disappeared from normal gameplay, with the exception of the odd 6UAC2 Daishi. Even IS UAC5s, which got the lightest nerf, have become a rare sight in modestly high-level play.

Though I have--by popular demand--been running mechs too light to worry much about heavy ballistics this month, the developing concensus on ballistic mechs is that they can go Gauss or go home. LBX autocannons, despite several incremental improvements to their spread still spread their damage, making them an unattractive option compared to anything that can reliably pinpoint a single component.

For Clan mechs, eliminating UACs and LBX leaves you with Gauss for your ballistic hardpoints. For IS mechs, there's niche applications for the standard autocannons on certain quirked mechs or in specific combination with other weapons, but even for them, the general go-to ballistic weapon is the Gauss rifle.

I don't usually bitch about PGI here, but the UAC nerf really serves to demonstrate that they didn't understand the tenuous state of balance into which they had stumbled. The quad-UAC10 Kodiak-3 was <censored> nuts, and some heavily-quirked IS mechs over-performed with pairs and trios of UAC5s. The ideal solution would have been to target those specific mechs for nerfs, but they went after the weapon systems instead. The result is that the same mechs are over-performing, but they're over-performing with Gauss rifles instead of UACs, and otherwise-mediocre chassis that relied on UACs to keep up have been consigned to gathering dust in the garage.

And now, they want to advance the timeline to 3060 and add a bunch of new weapons and tech, when they don't understand how the existing equipment functions or reacts to tweaks. Balance is going to get worse, before it gets better.

Yeah, this could spin off into a much longer rant, but I'll leave it here for now.

Re: Some Updated Thoughts on Weapons

PostPosted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:44 pm

Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:17 am
hey blueflames!

Thumbs up on your posts here. :thumb: high quality writing, had a blast reading these since december. I wanted to grab you on discord, but apparently you don't connect often. as a new MWO player (started playing 1 year ago) I find a very interesting read in this forum. I've registered and joined discord because of you and your posts

Keep them coming,


tier 3 mw'r

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